We have not touched any flea and tick preventatives that contain chemicals since the beginning of the year. It was time to pay attention to what we were applying to our dogs and I regret not taking action sooner. After all, what we put on their skin is absorbed into their body and organ systems. I find it a little scary that tests on laboratory animals with active ingredients found in spot-on products resulted in thyroid cancer, liver and kidney toxicity, and convulsions.
So that meant buh-bye Frontline.
Not to mention, I was a little disappointed after we came back from a hike and pulled off 10 ticks between the two dogs. A week after applying Frontline. Ick.
So I began the search for a natural and safe solution to repel fleas and ticks from the pooches.
I was overwhelmed at the options and also the reviews that I was reading. Some appeared to do nothing, some received fairly good reviews and other options such as essential oils were said to be just as dangerous as the chemical-filled repellents if not used properly.
1. Only Natural Pet Flea & Tick Tag: this tag attaches to the dog’s collar and uses holistic technology that repels fleas and ticks by using your pet’s own bio-energetic field. We have had this tag on Lola for about three months now and no ticks thus far. Our house backs up to a wooded area and we also go on hikes and walks throughout the neighborhood. It’s said to last for up to a year – making the initial ~$40-50 investment seem minimal. More info on the Flea & Tick Tag from Pet360.
2. GNC Flea & Tick Wipes: I could take or leave these. They were nice to just “wipe and go” but I actually ended up just using them on my own arms and legs. The wipes themselves were rather small, thin, and hard to wipe across the fur. It also didn’t seem to distribute much of the repellent on the dogs. I would’ve needed about five wipes to feel like I really protected Lola. So maybe I’ll just keep these for myself. If it came in a spray, this might be much easier to apply thoroughly. I’m just glad I bought these on clearance for $4.99.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar Spray: we have used apple cider vinegar for many uses with our dogs. And while we don’t really have a problem with fleas in Minnesota, I’d definitely use as a repellent if I lived elsewhere (crossing fingers this will be someday…). For a simple flea repellent spray, mix two parts ACV to one part water. It’s believed that fleas cannot handle the odor or taste of the apple cider vinegar. Plus, it can even be used as a rinse if your dog already has fleas. Check out Kristen’s blog post on Well Minded about using apple cider vinegar as a repellent.
4. Natural Flea & Tick Spot On Treatment: we used this on Lola and Rio before we went to Colorado. My complaint about this product was that it is extremely oily. Like take Frontline and multiply by 10. It even discolored Rio’s fur between his shoulders until we bathed him. And then anytime we would go to pet him or Lola our hands would be full of the almond oil mixture because it managed to spread out into about an 8-inch circle. Other than that, it seemed to do the job for the week we were out there (no ticks). It eventually absorbed in as well, although it did take several days. I’m not sure it would work for the full month that it’s claimed to – the smell seemed to almost disappear completely after a week or so and we usually bathe our dogs more than once a month. I probably wouldn’t purchase this product again.
5. Essential Oils: essential oils can be very helpful if used correctly. I’m finding out there is quite a bit of research involved and even contrasting information out there – so do your research, consult with a professional, and educate yourself before using on your dog.
Tick Spritz Recipe – source: Young Living
• 1 cup of Distilled water
• 2 Drops Geranium Essential Oil
• 2 Drops Palo Santo Essential Oil
• 1 Drop Myrrh Essential Oil
• 4 Drops Grapefruit Essential Oil
• 1 Drop Peppermint Essential Oil
• 1 Drop of Thieves Hand Soap or Castile Soap (emollient)
Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and shake. Spritz on as needed. You can also use this recipe on yourself and horses.
Another option is to place a drop or two of oils on their collar or in a collar diffuser to deter insects and ticks.
Things to keep in mind when using essential oils:
Just because a product is natural, does not mean it is safe. While essential oils can be very therapeutic and helpful, they can also cause harm to your dog (+ you typically pay for what you get with oils).
How much and how often you have to apply oils depend on the general health of your dog, where you live, weight and daily activities.
Never apply essential oils directly to your pet’s skin without properly diluting them or using a carrier oil (mixing with olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, grape seed oil to name a few).
Essential oils that should not be used on animals: Anise, Clove Leaf/Bud, Garlic, Horseradish, Thyme, Wintergreen, or Yarrow, to name a few.*
*For more info, please check out this helpful Natural News Article with tips for safety using essential oils on your dog or pet.
Do you use a natural flea and tick preventative? If so, what do you use? Are you satisfied with it’s performance?
Other helpful articles: